In This Review

It Will Be Fun and Terrifying: Nationalism and Protest in Post-Soviet Russia
It Will Be Fun and Terrifying: Nationalism and Protest in Post-Soviet Russia
By Fabrizio Fenghi
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020, 312 pp

Fenghi parses both the left- and the right-wing fringes of post-Soviet Russian culture. He focuses on two scandalous and charismatic figures: Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Dugin. In the early 1990s, they launched the National Bolshevik Party, which merged anti-mainstream artistic expression and radical nationalist ideas with political action. The NBP categorically rejected Western capitalism and encouraged personal, cultural, and sexual freedom and transgressive behavior. Its followers included those as diverse as radical artists and disgruntled provincial youth. Dugin, an eccentric and prolific philosopher and writer, later gravitated toward the Kremlin establishment, but Limonov remained forever a rebel and a contrarian—whether as an anti-Western immigrant in the United States; as the author of the 1979 novel It’s Me, Eddie, which included intense violence and graphic descriptions of gay sex; or as an avid traveler to war zones in Abkhazia, Transnistria, and the former Yugoslavia. Fenghi posits that Limonov saw his own life as an artistic project, making his real-life persona inseparable from his writing and his politics. A month after the publication of Fenghi’s book, Limonov died in Moscow. In addition to offering a profound and probing understanding of the post-­Soviet political and cultural fringe, the book serves as an homage to its controversial protagonists.